Cambodian Audiology Lecture Visit, Touching on Many Levels

If you’ve read any of the articles or excerpts on All Ears Cambodia, a charity I’ve been working with over the past six years, you’ll know we’re supporting a great cause. Whilst quite an undertaking for our small business to change a thousand lives, it reminds us of the essence of why we do what we do each day, enabling us to assist more people to a fuller participation in life. Whilst some aspects of this post are a little confronting, the intention is to highlight some of the nuances of what we do there, my recent visit and how your contribution is so important.

Two million Cambodians live with disabling hearing loss; it is estimated that 85 percent of those live in abject poverty and there’s essentially no pension. All Ears Cambodia are essentially the largest force for Audiology in the country. Not only do the hearing aids you help us send get put to good use, I’m honoured to be one of their visiting lecturers. During five years working in Asia, I saw a range of charitable causes; most were ineffective in the long run as the work we do requires sustained patient care over the long term. All Ears Cambodia are the real deal and are in it for the long haul with a great team of local staff.

The devastating Cambodian genocide by the Khmer Rouge, the Communist force in power between 1975 and 1979 has, to this day, left very visible scars across this once peaceful nation. Unlike other genocides in which only specific ethnic groups are singled out for execution, the Cambodian genocide would target doctors, teachers, educated people, the sick, children and even babies. On a personal note, my family friends, ethnic Vietnamese Cambodians, fled the country after their brother was shot during the upheaval, purely based on his race. With the help of my grandfather, they set up home and a productive orchard in rural Victoria. They, their children and grandchildren have become valued members of the local community, always generous with boxes of fruit and amazing spring rolls and still grateful for their new lives some forty years later.

The Cambodian genocide lacked an international investigation, most likely due to the USA’s recent loss in the Vietnam War and reluctance to engage with the region. The film The Killing Fields was released in 1984 and brought international attention to part of the devastation that happened during that horrific four years. I won’t go into detail about the unspeakable acts that happened there and will only mention the at-gunpoint evacuation of the city of Phnom Penh in 1975. All three million people – lawyers, businessmen, babies, even hospital patients – were forced out hundreds of kilometres into the countryside to work the land. Most had been subject to upheaval, fear and loss in the preceding years associated with the nearby Vietnam War. In the harrowing process of evacuation and forced rural labour, around a quarter of the population died. Per capita, it was the most severe human catastrophe in modern times.

Most of the patients we help in Cambodia endured this process and most have lived in abject poverty since. I can’t think of a group of people I’d rather support.

At the clinic, I had the privilege of teaching 11 eager-to-learn Audiologists, four of whom I first taught as students six years ago. They indicated that most of their patients had histories of severe infections that generally add 30-50 percent of additional hearing loss on top of age and noise related issues; leprosy and landmine injuries are also not uncommon.

Overwhelmingly, as there is essentially no pension in Cambodia, most were dependent on hearing aids supplied by the charity to hold down a job for survival for themselves and provide appropriate care and safety for their grandchildren.

It’s an absolute pleasure teaching there. The Audiologists are eager to learn, they ask good questions and don’t want you to leave! I had previously worked full time in Asia for five years and trained dozens of clinicians over that time. That experience has been invaluable in tailoring the advice and guidance to the All Ears Cambodia team.

If you or someone you know has pre-loved hearing aids, please drop them off or send them in – they will be put to good use. If you refer someone you care about, as part of our ‘Change Two Lives’ program, we send new devices on your behalf. Our goal is to change one thousand lives by the end of 2025. There are more details at Indeed, if you’d like to make a direct donation you can do this via the following link:

Thanks Again


#Audiologist #HearingLoss #HearingAid #AllEarsCambodia #NeuAudio